Families mourn Worcester fire victims, but thankful for survivors

WORCESTER, Mass. — The death toll of the Gage Street apartment building fire rose from two to four Monday as authorities pulled out two more bodies.

The building owner Jim Li says the fire started on the back deck. He is now thanking someone who lived in the building for preventing more deaths.

“He was banging on everybody’s door,” said Li. “Fire! Fire! Come out! Get out!”

He says there were 21 people in the seven-unit building, which is now a total loss. Li says sadly some of them are living in their cars or staying with friends.

The Saturday morning fire also spread next door, where 12 others are displaced. He hopes to have those tenants back soon.

The people displaced, although homeless, are thankful they made it out alive, something Christopher Lopez sadly cannot say about his cousin.

“They lived on the third floor,” said Lopez, who we found as he came to say goodbye.

His cousin’s girlfriend survived, but was one of four people injured.

“She’s actually one of the persons that jumped out the third-floor window, and she’s in the hospital right now with brain damage,” said Lopez.

Still, fears remain that there could be more victims inside, since there have been major delays with this investigation.

“There were snakes in the building,” said Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early. “They couldn’t get in there right away. The fact that there was water, the structure was damaged, the roof collapsed.”

While some residents came to see what could be salvaged, others like Lopez have to figure out how his cousin’s three kids will go on without a father.

“He was the piece of glue in the family,” said Lopez. “He was just one of those pieces that stuck us together sometimes.”

We purposefully are not releasing the names of the victims until authorities do so. Those authorities are not just working on notifying next of kin, but also looking through surveillance cameras in the area to see if there is any foul play here.

Residents told Boston 25 people were walking around the building moments before the 3:30 a.m. fire.

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